That Was the Week That Was
Today marked the end of what could turn out to be a momentous week for Liverpool Football Club and the 96 Angels that watch over us every day. On Monday evening we had the parliamentary debate regarding the full release of the papers relating to the Hillsborough disaster. A debate that was started by Steve Rotherham MP with a rousing speech that set the tone for the next four hours and twenty minutes. It was a very emotional occasion and finally the light is beginning to shine through the end of the tunnel. The motion was passed and the government have promised to release all the papers without any alterations or deletions which is victory for everyone that has campaigned for this over the last twenty two years. A victory that was epitomised by the mural today on the KOP dedicated to the 96.
Football wise, it was a day that should have finished with a totally different result. Liverpool was playing Norwich for the first time in seven years and was expected to win the game. Norwich after all were one of the minnow's the Premiership having come up from the Championship at the end of the last season, but they had already proved that they can give the 'bigger clubs' a run for their money by playing well at Manchester United and Chelsea.
The way they played during these two games should have sent the alarm bells ringing through the rest of the Premiership and ensure that the teams they put out were ones that could beat an up and coming Norwich eleven. Eleven players that are very rarely changed, so they are fully aware of each other strengths and weaknesses. This as we know is how the winning mentally is installed and kept within the playing staff and Paul Lambert is proving what a fantastic manager he is.
Now Kenny being the intelligent man that he is, was fully aware of this and the team he chose was on paper a very powerful one, although I would have preferred Martin Kelly rather than Glen Johnson to have been on the pitch. There was also a first start for Craig Bellamy, who during his long footballing career had played for Norwich and he was one of the player's that stood out this evening. We were of course missing Lucas due to his ban and his absence certainly showed during the second half.
The match itself was nail-biting from the moment Peter Walton blew the whistle to signal its start. Liverpool appeared to have the upper hand right from the beginning and the pass and move form of football was in evidence immediately. So much so that Norwich did not seem to know what had hit them. Martin Skrtel was the first Liverpool player to show intent by picking a ball from Charlie Adam and heading it towards the goal but the ball was the first of many to hit the post during the game. This was also the end result of balls aimed into the box by Suarez. Now Suarez who last season had a great knack of scoring goals appears to be going through a barren spell which was probably made worse today by the added stress caused by this week's events.
Norwich though were not going to give up and as the half progressed so did they, their confidence was growing all the time and there were times when if it had not been for Pepe Reina they would have put the ball in the back of net. Our defence was beginning to falter and for around fifteen minutes Liverpool appeared to fall asleep, which as we all know is something that happens far too easily and far too often at the moment. But with the first drawing to a close Craig Bellamy picked up the ball and after a great run, it found the back of the net.
Liverpool for the moment were out of jail and providing they could either score further goals or indeed keep hold of the lead, it looked as though, it would go down as a home win.
With Anfield buzzing the two teams came out for the second half, a half that was to prove once more that the Liverpool players have a lot of work to do on the training pitch. The second half began where the first half finished, Liverpool were denied another scoring chance when a Suarez ball deflected off Martin and onto the post.
This signalled to Paul Lambert that he needed to have a re-think about his squad and make a change if necessary. Now this change meant that Holt would come of the bench and score the goal that would put Norwich back onto a level playing field. In fact, he nearly scored several minutes later had Pepe Reina not caught his shot. Norwich were now gaining in confidence and began to give Liverpool problems.
Problems that meant Kenny made what I would call bizarre substitutions. He took of Bellamy who was having a fantastic game and replaced him with young Jordan Henderson, which to me, was a very bad mistake. Craig Bellamy is the master of moving forward quickly and I am sure if he had been left on the pitch, another goal might possibly have come. Jordan unfortunately did not have the same impact as last week and seemed very ordinary today. The next substitution was also strange to me with Kenny replacing Stewart Downing with Andy Carroll. Now again I would have left Stewart Downing on the pitch and replaced Luis Suarez with Andy because he was having such a bad day and his frustration was beginning to show once more.
Now I know, he is one of our best players but, as I said earlier in this article, he has been under immense pressure this week because of outside influences and although I suspect some of his dives today were worth free kicks, there were far too many off them. All he is doing is causing problems for himself and I believe Kenny needs to take him aside and explain that there are other ways of trying to ensure your team wins.
For the final few minutes Daniel Agger replaced Dirk Kuyt, who as usual worked extremely hard, but again the shot he had, did not find the back of the net. This then signalled the frantic work rate that appears now to be norm at the end of our games, but although Andy Carroll was in a great scoring position the ball he picked up but the shot was sent wide.
The game then finished as a score draw. Liverpool had dropped much needed points at home once more and this is something that needs to change if a Champions League spot is to be the target for next season. You cannot take anything away from Norwich though and they deserve to be congratulated for playing as well as they did.